Bicycling as a Metaphor for Freedom
I remember the first time my father let go of my bicycle seat when I was a little boy. That was the moment I was finally free; at least until my mother called me in for dinner as the sun was setting in the western sky.
For many, these carefree childhood memories fade as we age, and with taking on the daunting responsibilities of adulthood–be they personal, professional, financial or a bit of all of the above.
However and although I no longer have anyone calling me inside at night but my pets and my own meal-making responsibilities, my bicycle still remains my liberation and exercise; and with both, freedom alike.
Top Five Reasons to Own and Ride a Bicycle
What follows is a list of the top five reasons to own and ride a bike daily. Although this is a personal list, the motivations and reasoning’s behind it can appeal to anyone and everyone–regardless of age, culture, or socioeconomic background.
Rather, it is never too late to ride one’s bike as exercise, leisure or even as a mode of daily transportation. This is, if the freedom entailed isn’t too much for you to handle!
Reason #1-A Pure and Unique Cardiovascular Exercise
As a former bodybuilder and ‘gym rat’, I got lost in the endless maze of heavy machinery and cardiovascular equipment gyms provided for years of my life. However, nowadays I avoid the indoor workout venues at all costs. How many times can someone run on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike without feeling like a caged animal going nowhere but where they have already been?
Riding a bicycle outdoors is the epitome of freedom. Even daily rides can be easily altered to provide and sustain a novelty the redundancy of indoor cardiovascular machines never will. Beyond this, riding a physical bike with tires hitting pavement and pedals powering those tires is a more pure form of exercise–versus the manufactured resistance of a stationary machine.
Reason #2-The Social Aspect of Bicycling
Do we ever really interact with another driver while operating our motor vehicles, unless it is with one finger raised higher than the other, or to unconsciously motion them out in front of us? Bike riders, unlike motor vehicle operators, have an unspoken code of conduct with one another; where waves, smiles and pleasantries are normally exchanged. This is not taking into account the bicycle riding troupes both officially and colloquially–where friends come together in a flock, to ride as part of a synced and supportive group entity.
The overall cordiality of bicyclists and riding makes one feel as though they are part of a community while on a bike. This is versus a bunch of individuals all going different places in spite of one another. Many times, I for one look upon those stuffed in their cars and with that, in their own lonely worlds. I sometimes cannot help but feel pity for their isolation, even if they have air conditioning and music accompanying it.
Reason #3-It’s A lot Less Expensive than Owning and Operating a Car
In today’s era of outrageous prices for gasoline, as well as heavy costs of insuring and repairing motor vehicles, bicycling offers a wonderful alternative to automobile ownership. Buying a bike, a helmet, and if you ride on city streets like I do, blinking headlights and tail-lights are usually the heaviest costs incurred. Granted, tires eventually go flat and chains break, but the costs of repairing and replacing such things are minimal compared to motor vehicles.
Additionally, where as most of us are not Mr. Goodwrench when it comes to our computerized, complicated automobiles; fixing a bicycle is fun and easy to do at home, and rarely requires anything more than an inexpensive store bought tool kit. Also, if you live in a city like I do, with rail systems as well as buses, commuting to work via bicycle and/or public transportation is a wonderful and inexpensive way to reduce your carbon footprint, and increase your adventuring spirit at the same time.
Reason #4-Grow Old but Never Up!
Going back to my original reason for liking to ride bicycles, as well as revisiting in part the social aspect, is riding to stay young inside as well as out. Have you ever looked at someone in their car who appears so desperate as though they are literally trapped, or so serious that they could explode at any moment? Or how about those angry, super-aggressive drivers, wound so tightly around their steering wheels and ready to mow down anyone or thing in their way?
My daily bike rides include a stop at Encanto Park in downtown Phoenix. Encanto is one of Arizona’s largest urban public parks–offering a golf course, amusement park for children, fishing in human-made lakes and streams, as well as paddle boat excursions. For me, my morning ritual of duck feeding there as a rest period during my ride is something I cherish like nothing else. It reminds me of being young again, and the simple pleasure of enjoying nature and the company of all of the Universe’s creatures who either walk or waddle.
Reason #5-Appreciate the Earth Without Stomping on It
This brings us to the final, but maybe most important reason to own and ride a bike daily for exercise or transportation purposes–in order to never forget where we come from. Whether it’s spending the bulk of each day encapsulated in a gym, an automobile, cubicle, or any other physical structure; a bike is the surest way to re-connect to our natural, human roots such manufactured ‘comfort zones’ actually rob us spiritually and perceptually of.
The freedom and liberty to go where we choose, as fast or slow as we like, and with or against the grain of the human-made or natural world by ourselves or as a pack; this all serves to remind us that our bodies are but dust from this planet, and our spirits the property of the blue skies up above our heads and wandering eyes. To experience this all without taking more away from Mother Earth in doing so, is a priceless experience that hopefully will be enjoyed by everyone in their own ways as suits their necessities and desires.